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Comic Book / Secret Wars (1984)

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Can the combined forces of Earth's most powerful super heroes defeat the ultimate menace?!!

"I am from beyond! Slay your enemies and all you desire shall be yours! Nothing you dream of is impossible for me to accomplish!"
The Beyonder

The mother of all Crisis Crossovers. Really: the original Crisis Crossover.

Secret Wars is a twelve-issue comic book Crisis Crossover limited series published from May 1984 to April 1985 by Marvel Comics, written by Jim Shooter (also the Editor-In-Chief of Marvel at the time), and pencilled by Mike Zeck, with Bob Layton doing fill-in work on some issues.

A nearly omnipotent Cosmic Entity by the name of The Beyonder, fascinated by the presence of superheroes on Earth and their potential, chooses groups of both heroes and supervillains (and Galactus) and teleports them against their will to "Battleworld", a planet created by him in a distant galaxy, stocked with alien weapons, technology and mismatched parts from different worlds. He tells them to kill each other, and, to the victor, his greatest desire will be granted. His purpose is to understand the (to him) alien concept of "desire".

The heroes include the Fantastic Four (minus Sue Storm, who was pregnant at the time), The Mighty Thor, the Jim Rhodes version of Iron Man, the Monica Rambeau version of Captain Marvel, She-Hulk, Spider-Man, Hulk, Hawkeye, Captain America and The Wasp, with the second Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter) showing up several issues in (in her first appearance). Members of the X-Men (Professor X, Storm, Colossus, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Rogue, and Lockheed the Dragon, plus Cyclops who technically wasn't an X-Man at the moment) split off from the main heroic team and act as a separate faction for much of the book. Magneto, buffing up his Anti-Villain credentials, also does his own thing before joining with his fellow mutants. Villains include Doctor Doom, Galactus, Doctor Octopus, Klaw, Ultron, the Lizard, the Wrecking Crew, the Enchantress, Kang the Conqueror, Molecule Man, the Absorbing Man, and the new villains Titania and Volcana. The heroes spend most of their time trying to understand their situation and fixing it, while Doom plots his own agenda, because of course he does.

Originally envisioned to promote a new line of action figures, the series features a huge war between the greatest heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe. And Bulldozer. It ultimately sparked a series of status-quo shifts across all titles whose impact continues to reverberate to the present day. Spidey gets a shiny new black costume inspired by Spider-Woman's (which would eventually be revealed to be the Venom symbiote), She-Hulk briefly replaced The Thing in the Fantastic Four (who stayed behind on Battleworld for a while after he discovered he can revert to human form while there), Volcana hooks up with Molecule Man, and Colossus gets Strangled by the Red String to an alien healer, causing him to break up with Kitty Pryde.

Over the years there have been a number of follow-ups to Secret Wars:

  • Secret Wars II: In which the Beyonder (an off-screen presence in the first event) is finally visualized as a Humanoid Abomination who descends to Earth and engages in a series of weird hijinks. This series was also by Jim Shooter, and is seen as being a a Spiritual Successor of The Korvac Saga, also written by Shooter. As a result of this event, The Beyonder got retconned into a delusional lesser cosmic being in a Fantastic Four story years laternote 
  • "Beyond!": A miniseries in which the events of the first series seemed to be playing all over again, with a reduced cast of heroes and villains. It was finally revealed not to be the Beyonder, but The Stranger pretending for "research purposes".
  • New Avengers: The Illuminati: A miniseries by Brian Michael Bendis retcons and alters the events of Secret Wars II as taking place on a simulated cluster of asteroids in outer space.
  • Secret Wars: The first real follow-up to the original event, which is the culmination of a series of events showcased in The Avengers (Jonathan Hickman) which brought all of the Marvel Multiverse to a close — and after this, a full-scale Continuity Reboot ensued (though characters retained their memories from before the multiversal merging).
  • Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars: A tie-in miniseries by Cullen Bunn that serves as a retelling of the the event — but with Deadpool (a character who hadn't been invented yet at the time of the first event) Retconning the entire story so that he was there the whole time, but nobody knew about it.
  • A pared down version of the first Secret Wars was adapted for the final season of Spider-Man: The Animated Series, reducing the number of characters involved and making Spider-Man the leader of the forces of good rather than Captain America.
  • In 2015, Graphic Audio did an adaptation of the novelization of the original mini-series.
  • Season 4 of Avengers Assemble, retitled Avengers: Secret Wars, combines elements of the original and 2015 versions.

Not to be confused with the miniseries in the 2000s titled Secret War (singular) but was about superspy Nick Fury getting some heroes to help him track the source of supervillain technology.

A Live-Action Adaptation of the story titled Avengers: Secret Wars was announced at San Diego ComicCon in 2022 as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is slated for a 2027 release.

Secret Wars provides example of:

  • The '80s: Oh YES. Most noticeable when Johnny Storm tries to woo Zsaji by singing lyrics to Michael Jackson and Culture Club songs.
  • Adventure-Friendly World: Multiple characters note little things about how the world is ideal for their powers and methods. Spider-Man has plenty of stuff to attach his webs to. Storm notes the air is "thick but easy to control" making it even easier to fly on. The heroes are provided with conveniently humane prison cells. Etc.
  • Advertised Extra: The original advertisement for the maxi-series prominently features Kitty Pryde/Ariel in the image. She never properly appears in the series (in fact, her separation from the X-Men at that time was a plot point in New Mutants), and the actual cover has her edited out.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Averted. The alien villagers on Battleworld don't speak English and can't directly communicate with the heroes.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: In the first issue, Ultron picks a fight with Galactus. It doesn't go well for him.
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Molecule Man. Up till this point, he made very limited application of his powers, believed he was limited to inorganic matter and was very meek and submissive. Over the course of Secret Wars I and II, he first learns that he is capable of affecting all matter on any scale and slowly overcomes his meekness to the point that he goes toe to toe with the Beyonder in the second book, having accepted that he's the second most powerful being in the universe.

    It should be pointed out that early in the series, before he gets starts getting more powerful and confident, he is able to casually drop a mountain on the heroes without so much as breaking a sweat. Followed not too long after that by ripping an even larger chunk of the planet's crust (over 2 billion tons of matter) and sweeping it up into almost the vacuum of space with all the heroes on it, because he was angry at Doom (who had just gained the Beyonder's powers) and wanted to get everyone else out of his way, and he did it just as casually as waving a hand. That being just before Doom uses the Beyonder's powers to remove Molecule Man's self-imposed limitations.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Although the characters don't realize it, Battleworld was granting their wishes all along. This is why both Colossus and The Human Torch find "the perfect girlfriend" (Zsaji) and The Thing can change back to human.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Owen Reece is the nicest guy on the villains side. A complete milquetoast and very sensitive. He also drops an entire mountain range on the heroes with the flick of his wrist. Even the Hulk with all his might could only hold open a pocket under the mountain range and Thor, who was hammering with all his might from the surface, could only be heard as a faint tapping by the heroes trapped beneath. As we see later, when he doesn't hold himself back, Owen Reece is potentially more powerful than Galactus. Let's put it another way: Doom, who treats the rest of the villains as his servants, is actually nice to Owen. It has the others scratching their heads until Owen first demonstrates his power.
    • The heroes have Spider-Man, who when ticked off defeats the entire X-Men team and gives a brutal beating to Titania that leaves her with a longstanding fear of him.
    • And lest we forget, the Wasp, who despite being a founding Avenger and often The Leader, is usually seen as a ditzy dilletante. But shortly after the above example, she totally clowns the X-Men (and Magneto) upon her escape from Magneto's stronghold. This series was decidedly not kind to the X-Men's rep.
    Wolverine: First Spider-Man, now the Wasp?!? I'm tired of gettin' dumped on my butt!
  • Big Bad: Ostensibly the unseen and unglimpsed Beyonder (at least in the original series), but the real villain turns out to be Doctor Doom.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The Human Torch notes that the structure that transports them to Battleworld seems bigger on the inside.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Wolverine says he doesn't really blame Colossus for following his heart, but that he needs to realize that his love for Zsaji is probably an effect of her powers and that "love" as a concept might not mean the same thing to an alien like her as it does to Peter.
  • Body Horror:
    • Dr. Doom slicing and dicing Klaw to make lenses out of his sonic wave-like body is lacking in blood and guts (and he isn't in any pain), but be prepared for Klaw's body spread out like literal bread and steak slices and cuts.
    • In the moment after Doom siphons powers from Galactus, a big flash briefly makes the skeletons of multiple heroes visible, including Reed Richards in the middle of a long stretch, enjoy seeing a translucent Mr. Fantastic who is mostly skin except for the bones which bend and twist around at unusual angles.
    • The Beyonder performs a vivisection on the fallen Doctor Doom, after the despot's failed attack. He literally strips half of von Doom's body down to the bone (leaving the other half intact) for the purpose of scientific comparison.
  • Brought Down to Normal: The Thing, twice, involuntarily. Once he figures out he can turn between human and rocky orange at will, he decides to stay behind for a while.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Even after being firsthand witnesses of what Molecule Man can do, the Wrecking Crew still feel the need to push him around when he's with Volcana, because he's just that meek. Doesn't take too long for Owen to remind them, let's just say, why he's in Doom's good graces and they're not.
  • C-List Fodder: Surprisingly averted. The Wasp gets shot through the heart at one point, and Doom offs a couple of minor villains out of pique, but in the end they're Only Mostly Dead.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Once Doom takes the Beyonder's power, he soon realizes that it requires a great deal of concentration to ensure that he only uses this power to do what he wants to do, as opposed to whatever he thinks of. This is used against him after his massive attack on the heroes; while he's certain they're all dead, Klaw, being manipulated by the remaining fragments of the Beyonder's persona, is able to present a scenario where the heroes survived (Colossus and Mister Fantastic were Not Quite Dead as Colossus was in steel form during the blast and Richards' elastic body also helped him cope, and both manage to use healing technology to restore the others), and Doom's strained ability to control his power causes him to make that scenario real, despite the odds against it happening.
  • Co-Dragons: Once Doom has firmly established himself as the villains' leader, Ultron and Doctor Octopus share this role. Ultron has been reprogrammed to be Doom's loyal enforcer and bodyguard, while Octopus is pretty much the only one on Doom's intellectual level who can scheme with him. Once Octopus leaves the planet with most of the villains, Doom replaces him with Klaw, who basically just acts as a sounding board.
  • Compact Infiltrator: Ultron at first appears invincible thanks to its adamantium outer shell, with even the Hulk barely managing to leave tiny dent in the robot's head. Then, without warning, Ultron begins spitting sparks and collapses in a heap; turns out Janet van Dyne AKA the Wasp was able to sneak into the robot's interior via the dent left in Ultron's skull and zap any non-adamantium components she could find.
  • Conflict Ball: Hawkeye and the Torch act suspicious towards the X-Men for much of the series, despite having worked with them before. Anti-mutant bias makes little sense for either of them since Johnny's nephew is a mutant and Clint was in love with one (the Scarlet Witch).
  • Continuity Snarl: Doctor Doom was dead at the time of this series, but was too big a baddie to be left out. The Fantastic Four comic spent much of the next year unraveling how Doom could be present for the Wars while dead.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: When the Human Torch uses his "nova flame" to take out Ultron, it burns so hot that it melts clean through the surrounding solid-metal walls and floor. When the smoke clears, Captain America, who was standing a few yards away and protected only by huddling his upper body behind his shield, is perfectly unharmed. Apparently, his body's melting point is a lot higher than that of whatever alien metal was used to build Doombase.
  • Crisis Crossover: The first of its kind in publication order. The whole story was presented in its own mini-series and the only tie-ins and lead-ins being issues in different titles showing heroes going into Central Park's Sheep Meadow and being transported across the galaxy. It's the Trope Maker while Crisis on Infinite Earths with its many year-long tie-ins in multiple issues across the entire DC Line is the Trope Codifier. Depending on who you ask, either Marvel rushed first to beat DC or that DC got wind of it and rushed to meet Marvel.
  • Crossover Villain-in-Chief: The godlike Beyonder abducts many of Earth's mightiest heroes (Fantastic Four, Avengers, the X-Men, Spider Man) and likewise Earth's most dangerous villains (Absorbing Man, Ultron, Galactus, Enchantress). The two groups are deposited on a distant world, and set to a Goodies versus Baddies free-for-all. The Goodies decide upon Captain America as their leader; the Baddies settle upon Doctor Doom as their chief — which Doom has no interest in at first, but changes his mind when his attempts to forge allegiances with the heroes and Galactus both fail miserably.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Spider-Man using his vastly superior agility, reaction-time, and combat experience to take out Titania. She not only never lands a punch on him, but he takes his time while delivering the beatdown, all the while delivering a classic "The Reason You Suck" Speech. It makes her fearful of Spider-Man for years, despite the fact that she is much, much stronger and Nigh-Invulnerable.
    • Earlier, She-Hulk breaks into Doombase alone, to take revenge for the Wasp (supposedly killed at that time). She briefly dominates the Wrecking Crew (the group responsible for van Dyne's "death"), but the addition of Titania, Doc Ock, and the Absorbing Man to the fight results in them beating her nearly to death. The pummeling she takes verges on Nightmare Fuel.
    • Even earlier, when Spider-Man comes upon the X-Men plotting to join Magneto, he proceeds to wail on them and easily beats down Wolverine, Rogue, Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus before getting mindwiped by Xavier.
    • At the very start Ultron tries to kill the other super-villains, simply because they're organic beings and he has no interest in working with them. Doom realizes Ultron can kill almost all of them, so he tells the Molecule Man to toss Ultron at Galactus. This gets the world eater's attention. Ultron makes to fight Galactus, who shuts the killer robot down by simply drawing all the energy from the nuclear reactor that powers him. Then The Devourer approaches the Beyonder to demand that the Beyonder eliminate his hunger, but the Beyonder swats him away effortlessly.
  • David Versus Goliath: Dr. Doom versus the Beyonder.
    Dr. Doom: True. He is Goliath... and I am David. David had a sling, and knew a weakness of his foe that he might exploit!
  • Double Standard: When gathering bad guys, the Beyonder was apparently only able to find one A-list villainess, the Enchantress. Doctor Doom later rectifies this by empowering two civilians into Titania and Volcana. Why the Beyonder didn't consider X-Men villains Mystique, Emma Frost (this was years before her Heel–Face Turn), or Selene is anyone's guess.
  • Dramatic Unmask: After Doom steals the Beyonder's power, he removes his mask to reveal that he's healed his face and now looks quite handsome.
  • Evil Costume Switch: A really weird example with Spidey's new black costume. Peter isn't evil, but it turns out that the costume itself is- well, at least that it's alive and The Corruptible. But at the time, the black costume really was just a change of clothes; it was later that it would be retconned into an alien symbiote.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Doom builds himself a 200-mile high tower made of golden stone as his temporary quarters, and invites the heroes to meet with him.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: When the Enchantress learns the extent of Doom’s new power, she resolves to return to Asgard as fast as possible to warn them of the threat, because no matter how selfish she is, they’re still her people.
  • Gorgeous Garment Generation: There's a machine on Battleworld that can create whatever clothes the user desires. Spider-Man, who's suffered Clothing Damage, goes to use it to get a new costume. The machine he uses gives him a black suit reminiscent of new Spider-Woman Julia Carpenter's, but later on, he realizes that the device he used wasn't the one Thor was talking about...
  • Headbutting Heroes:
    • The heroes had never had a crossover quite like this before, so there are definite growing pains to their efforts to work together. The X-Men, in particular, have a hard time trusting the rest, and vice versa.
    • The villains butt heads as well; early on, when Doctor Doom is unable to convince the others that battling the heroes to satisfy petty desires is ridiculous compared to the chance to understand the awesome might of the Beyonder, he goes instead to ally with the heroes. But Kang won't let Doom betray them, and shoots him out of the sky with an alien beam weapon.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Colossus once exclaims "Lenin's beard!"
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming:
    • Wolverine invokes this when Hawkeye goes after Cyclops:
    Wolverine: Hands off, Hawkeye! Cyclops is a jerk. But he's our jerk!
    • More seriously invoked near the end where Captain America and other Avengers continue to question Magneto's loyalty and bash him for his prior history as a terrorist and mass murderer. The X-Men, and Wolverine himself, don't let Mags off the hook, but Wolverine asks Cap to clarify if he's hard on Magneto if he's a terrorist or a mutant, noting that for all their disagreements, the X-Men still see Mags as one of them and someone who, in his own twisted way, does more for mutantkind than the Avengers do.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Doctor Doom after he gains the power of the Beyonder, making him capable of anything. If he falls asleep and dreams then he is at risk of the power going out of control and granting his subconscious desires, whether it be destroying solar systems or resurrecting dead heroes. He's shown using the power to rejuvenate himself and eliminate the need for him to sleep temporarily. Why would he not just alter his body so as to eliminate the need for sleep permanently, so he wouldn't need to remember to rejuvenate himself every sixteen hours or so?
    • Human Torch and Hawkeye are uncharacteristically antagonistic towards the X-Men because they're mutants, even though they've both worked with the X-Men and other mutants multiple times in the past. Hell, Johnny's nephew is a mutant and Clint was in love with one (the Scarlet Witch).
  • Innocuously Important Episode: The subplot where Spider-man needs to replace his damaged costume is set up as just a way to introduce a costume re-design, and has little significance to the plot's resolution. Years later, when they needed a way to backpedal on that decision... say hello to Venom, everybody!
  • Inspirational Insult: While the Hulk is holding a 150 billion ton mountain up so the rest of the team can survive, when he starts getting fatigued Mister Fantastic insults him, angering him to increase his strength while also inspiring him to hold the mountain up a while longer. Hulk acknowledges this with Reed later.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Happens among both heroes and villains, with much misunderstanding and mutual hostility between different factions.
  • Mass Resurrection: Doctor Doom steals the Beyonder's power and kills all the heroes. His lackey Klaw (who secretly is possessed by the Beyonder at the time) talks Doom into thinking about the heroes reviving & attacking, and given that the Beyonder had Reality Warper powers which Doom stole this becomes true.
  • Merchandise-Driven
    • The whole series was conceived to promote Mattel's line of Marvel action figures. Certain plot points were even influenced by requests from the toy execs, such as Doctor Doom's armor becoming damaged and rebuilt to better resemble his action figure. This was due to the fact that the toy company felt Doom's classic look was too medieval, and wanted to give him a more futuristic suit for the toy line.
    • Oddly, the toy line bore almost no resemblance to the comic. There were only four heroes and four villains (including Kang, who dies early in the series, and Magneto, who's a hero in the comics) in the first set of toys, and each had a shield supposedly used to send secret messages (only Captain America had a shield in the comics, and it was his usual, non-message-sending one). The second set of toys added characters who weren't even in the comic (The Falcon, Daredevil, Baron Zemo, etc.), with the third line (only released outside the U.S.) adding even more toy-exclusive characters like Iceman and Electro.
    • Funnily enough, there's now a current series of toys involving reprints of Secret Wars and Secret Wars II, which has fewer "continuity" problems than the original toy line.
  • Missing Main Character: During the event in Marvel Comics, the main heroes went missing in their own books, usually for one issue, with supporting characters looking for them. One example included Spider-Man disappearing and his then-girlfriend Black Cat going to Doctor Strange for help.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Volcana asks Dr. Octopus to help Molecule Man (who had been gravely injured by Wolverine) because he's a "Doctor". He immediately points out that he has a doctorate in nuclear physics, and is not an MD.
  • The Omnipotent:
    • The Beyonder (almost) and Doom once he steals the Beyonder's power. Though his mortal mind can't handle it.
    • Owen Reece is also basically this once Doom reveals to him that he's been holding himself back. In the sequel he goes toe-to-toe with the Beyonder.
  • Original Generation: The Beyonder, the second Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter), Titania and Volcana (the latter of whom would later pull a Heel–Face Turn).
  • Patchwork World: Battleworld itself.
  • Plot Hole: A retroactive one at least. When Spider-Man gets his new black symbiote costume he celebrates by playfully squirting the Human Torch in the face with the costume's built-in web shooters, and the Human Torch comments that this new stuff is "even harder to burn off than your old webbing!" However, later comics established that A) the "webbing" created by the symbiotes are actually cast off pieces of the symbiotes themselves made to look like webs, and B) symbiotes are weak against fire. Given that, logically Spidey's new webbing should be easier for Torch to burn off, not harder. This is probably because of the "wish field" that the planet turns out to be covered in.
  • Poke in the Third Eye: As the two teleporters go whizzing through the cosmos, Professor Xavier tries to assess the occupants of the other teleporter. He's able to identify most of them before Amora the Enchantress detects the psychic link. "Mortal fool! You dare probe the mind of a goddess?" she taunts before putting the kibosh on Xavier's efforts. Xavier suffers no ill effects from Amora's psychic block, and Ben Grimm sums up the results: "So we got a Who's Who of bad guys over there, eh?"
  • Power Parasite: Doctor Doom steals Beyonder's ability here. But he starts with an appetizer consisting of all of Galactus' power.
  • The Protagonist: Doctor Doom has the major character arc in the entire storyline, actively trying to investigate the Beyonder and its nature, constantly playing different factions against each other and more or less driving the plot at every key turn.
  • Reality Warping Is Not a Toy: Doom's subconscious is eventually his undoing after acquiring the ability to alter reality. Which is kind of odd, since the Molecule Man, with almost the same power level and abilities doesn't seem to have this problem.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Spider Man verbally eviscerates Titania. It's brutal to read but well deserved, especially since Titania had just delivered an awful beat down of She-Hulk.
    Spider-Man: You ought to be happy, cuddles! You aspired to be a bully, and, man, you're a classic! You talk tough and nasty when you've got the upper hand — but when you're losing — well, that's when the whining little wimp-ette inside comes spilling out!
    [throws Titania through a wall]
  • Red Skies Crossover: Of the Unbuilt Trope variety. The crossover never affected most of the character's books. At most, the characters just poofed away for a few panels and came back when it was done. (This was particularly the case with Thor, who literally disposed of the entire series - plus two Avengers issues that framed it - in three panels.) There were exceptions - She-Hulk joining the Fantastic Four to replace the Thing (who stayed behind on the alien planet at the end of the series) and the introduction of Spider-Man's black costume (which would eventually become Venom) were the two most notable.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Titania and Volcana are introduced getting their powers from Dr. Doom; they weren't given a backstory until the 2004 She-Hulk series.
  • Retcon: Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars from the Secret Wars (2015) storyline retells the mini-series but with Deadpool in it. And this is actually canon and explains things that didn't jive well with things in the story or later on in comics. But why doesn't everyone remember Deadpool's involvement (other than him only being created seven years after the event)? The Wasp wished so hard to forget Deadpool existed, either out of disgust after seeing his cancer-ridden body or shame for her reaction, that everyone forgot.
  • Reveling in the New Form: Seeking to augment his Red Shirts, Doctor Doom transforms two Denver suburbanites into superhumans: Volcana (heat and flame powers) and Titania (super strength and durability). Volcana's fine with her new powers and appearance, but Titania is elated, since she'd heretofore been a mousy weakling nicknamed "Skeeter." Titania helps deliver a beatdown with gusto on She-Hulk, but fares no better than Skeeter against veteran hero Spider Man.
  • A Rotten Time to Revert: Ben Grimm of the Fantastic Four has long since given up on ever returning to human form again and must remain evermore The Thing. However, on the ersatz Battle World, during a pitched battle against an assembly of superpowered baddies, Ben finds himself transforming into his original human self. At any other time, this would have made Ben ecstatic; in this case, he's distressed, as he's facing a hostile force that badly needs The Thing's clobbering. The transformation turns out to be a side-effect of Battle World: it has an inherent capacity for wish fulfillment.
  • Sanity Slippage: Discussed in regards to Spider-Man, though not actually the case. He attempts to warn Mister Fantastic of the X-Men's secret alliance with Magneto, but Xavier performs a quick memory wipe, just before the webslinger can relate the details. So, Spider-Man trails off in the middle of the conversation with Reed and has no idea why he seemed so perturbed a moment ago. As he leaves, Richards questions if Peter is starting to lose his grip.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • Molecule Man, once his mental blocks are removed by Doom, decides to just take any villain who wants to go back to Earth.
    • Also early on, when most of the heroes (mainly the Avengers) keep throwing Magneto's villainous deeds in his face, he gets fed up with the treatment and leaves them to start an independent front.
  • Secret Identity: At the time, Spider-Man's true identity wasn't known to his colleagues, so he has to stay in costume 'round the clock. Some of the other heroes privately wonder if the strain of maintaining this secret without a break is affecting his stability.
  • Shapeshifting Heals Wounds: Wolverine severs the Absorbing Man's arm at the bicep while Creel held the properties of rock, something he'd apparently never had happen to him before. At the suggestion of his Love Interest Titania, Absorbing Man holds his arm perfectly in place before shifting back to human form, successfully reattaching the limb without enduring blood loss. However, it's very painful, and Creel mentions he feels like throwing up afterwards.
  • Shield Bash: During a raid on the villains' lair, Captain America confronts the Enchantress. She tried hitting Cap with zap bolts from her hands, but these all miss. "By Surtur's teeth, he moves like a cat!" she observes. When Cap gets within striking distance, Enchatress tries the old "You Wouldn't Hit a Girl" ploy, to which Cap responds with "With anyone else, Enchantress." Cap then knocks her out with his shield against her jaw.
  • Some of My Best Friends Are X: Hilariously alluded to in an exchange between Captain America and Wolverine. After Wolverine had earlier called out Captain America for claiming to represent the American Dream but never doing enough for mutants, Cap later proves himself a concerned and conscientious leader of the collected heroic supergroup and Wolverine apologizes for his earlier comments noting that he guesses Cap does indeed care for people regardless of their origins:
    Captain America: Some of my best friends are people.
  • Spiritual Successor: Secret Wars is considered an expanded version of The Korvac Saga, also written by Shooter.
  • Squishy Wizard:
    • The Molecule Man, at least until he discovers his full potential. For example, he is able to drop an entire mountain range that dwarfs the Appalachians on the heroes with no effort, but is put on the critical list by a single slash from Wolverine who had spent most of the series to this point getting swatted around by lesser villains.
    • The Enchantress is an aversion. She-Hulk grabs her, and Enchantress just backhands her away. She-Hulk then knocks her out, but admits that she was surprised Enchantress was so strong.
  • The Starscream: Kang, being so similar to Doom, was this at the very beginning. His first action being to attempt to kill Doom by shooting down his craft. Doom repays the favor the next time they meet by ordering Ultron to destroy him. He eventually recovers.
  • Throw-Away Country: The galaxy destroyed by the Beyonder at the beginning of the crossover series. Molecule Man is shown having actually reconstructed all the stars in the galaxy while flying the Denver suburb back to Earth as practice after Doom uses the Beyonder's power to remove his mental blocks. The revelation causes Dr. Octopus to go nuts and try to kill him.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Magneto, who is a straight-up villain (for now) thrown in with the heroesnote .
  • Token Good Teammate: While Galactus is more indifferent to good and evil, the real token good on the villains side is Molecule Man who is trying to reform at the time.
  • Token Minority Couple: Averted. Rhodes!Iron Man tried flirting with Rambeau!Captain Marvel, but she could tell there was someone different under the armor, and wasn't quite as impressed with the new guy.
  • Totally Radical: Some of the dialogue. She-Hulk actually says "TO THE MAX!" at one point.
  • Tournament Arc: Essentially what the mini-series was at first. The Beyonder made a team of the best heroes and villains in the Marvel universe at the time and created Battleworld for them to fight and told them "slay your enemies and all that you desire shall be yours! Nothing you dream of is impossible for me to accomplish!" Some were intrigued by the idea and went along with it, but others like Doom were aware there was more going on or just wanted to go home.
  • Un-Paused: Doom has Ultron disintegrate Kang as punishment for betrayal. Kang says, "You'll need me later, you fool! Don't — arrrgh!" After obtaining the Beyonder's powers, Doom restores Kang, who says, "— you realize that Kang is essential to... your... plans... Where am I?"
  • What If?:
    • There was a What If? where Doctor Doom kept the Beyonder's power and proceeds to turn the world into a utopia, free his mother's soul, acquire the Infinity Gauntlet, and defeat every major race and god-like entity in the Marvel Universe.
    • What If? v2 #114 told the story of what would have happened had the heroes never gotten home. Notably:
      • Rogue was permanently consumed by the personality she'd absorbed from Carol Danvers.
      • Spidey and the Symbiote are now one, to the point that when the Symbiote is hit by a sonic attack, there's nothing left of Peter underneath but his skeleton.
      • Professor Xavier now wears an upgraded Iron Man suit to protect his health and allow him to walk.
      • Several characters, including Magneto, James Rhodes, and Reed Richards, have died in the twenty-five year interim.
      • The Hulk disappears, becoming something of a bogeyman.
      • There are kids, who have powers based on a combination of both parents'. The good kids are Crusader (Cap and Rogue/Carol), Bravado (Thor and Enchantress), Mustang (Hawkeye and She-Hulk), Firefly (Human Torch and Wasp), and Torrent (Wolverine and Storm). The bad kids are Malefactor (Dr. Doom and Enchantress), Chokehold (Absorbing Man and Titania), Moleculon (Molecule Man and Volcana), Gator (Lizard and... someone), and Raze (Wrecker and an unidentified woman).
  • Wild Card:
    • Magneto for the first two-thirds of the series. The story takes place shortly after his first Heel–Face Turn in the X-Men comics, so while he's on good(ish) terms with the mutants and even the Beyonder sees him as heroic, the other Marvel heroes still think he's a villain and don't get why he's grouped with them. He goes off on his own since being with the X-Men was causing the other heroes to doubt them, and he refuses an alliance with Dr. Doom, making him purely on his own side. But since the X-Men end up separating from the other heroes anyway, Magneto joins them since they were the only group he trusts, and he was with them when they officially joined forces with other Marvel heroes.
    • The Lizard was mostly there by accident, and doesn't seem to have any allegiance to anyone, save Wasp, who bandaged up his injuries.
    • Galactus is simply above it all. From his perspective, he's been transported by a superior alien being to a new world alongside some rodents, insects, and a couple of chimps (Reed and Doom) so he spends most of the series ignoring them and trying to engage the alien.
    • Klaw isn't even part of the group of villains the Beyonder captured - he's there because he was trapped in Galactus' ship until Doom freed him. He then becomes Doom's confidante, and uses Obfuscating Insanity to undo Doom's plans.
    • The wildest of them all is Dr. Doom. From the very beginning after he rallies and brings the group of villains under his thumb, he quickly uses them as pawns for his scheme of getting cosmic powers, which means at different moments he'll allow heroes to win, or drop villains on his side like a hot potato and do what he wants.
  • The Worf Effect: Just in case you didn't know who Galactus was, he wipes the floor with Ultron in the first issue. Later, the Beyonder wipes the floor with Galactus.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Spider-Man has no qualms about beating the crap out of Titania. Admittedly, he's seen her beat She-Hulk pretty severely, so he knows she's tough enough to take what he can dish out.
  • X-Ray Sparks: When Galactus begins consuming Battleworld, the effect puts this into play and causes only the skeletons of everyone to be visible. However, he's stopped before he can carry it out and everything returns to normal.